By David Cox
These are some my brief observations about ministry leadership. If I would have known these before beginning my ministry, it would have been a great help to me.
1. The difference between biblical knowledge, and biblical knowledge that transforms the sinful life into the image of Christ.
–nobody cares what I know, only what I can give them that gets them out of their mess.
The whole purpose of ministry and edification of the saints is with the final goal of Christlikeness. Men make tricks, shortcuts, programs, and other means to achieve that end, but God has His means or methods for success in this already in place, and nothing man thinks up will substitute it.
God’s methods and means are simply the person of the minister. His spiritual interaction with God over the matters of his life is the “spiritual fabric” which defines the quality and effectiveness of moral change in other people’s life around him.
As the minister struggles, fails, learns, and succeeds, his example and sharing of his life and life’s principles is what actually infuses godly morality in others.
2. Authority or position does not make you a leader, but rather caring for others (beneficial oversight) does.
— a pastor-dictator can exist without a charge, but a pastor-caretaker cannot.
I have seen so many ministers and ministries make a big splash and fail because of this one. Very simply explained, most young ministers enter the ministry with the concept that once they occupy the position of pastor, everybody has to obey them. This is just not going to happen, and even though everybody from the church janitor to the church secretary to the church deacons and members will accept nominally that you are the leader, none will follow your leadership, and few will even accept orders from you.
This problem comes because YOU misunderstand leadership. Leadership is to leave the security and “ease” of being in the pack, and take a step out, actually many steps ahead of the rest. This means you risk yourself in order to “blaze a path” for those that follow you. While everybody “in the herd” are content with the status quo, you go beyond what is popular, what is accepted, what is received by everybody, and you discern God’s will and make a committment to it.
First before anybody else, you search, research, and personally committ to God’s will BEFORE you try to impose it on others. You live that principle by which you wish to order everybody else to do. Leadership is not the authority to order others about, to do your will, but the personal risk paid by you in committing to God’s will (finding it by getting messages from God) and convincing others to obey and submit to God’s will.
Those who follow you (if you are a true leader, you will have others who follow you) are always interested in what God has to say THROUGH YOU. Your personal opinion is of no importance to neither your people nor God, so don’t boast and inflate yourself to be more than you should be.
God’s Word will do a miraculous transformation of lives. Your opinions will bumble and cause people to err. Remember that, and always use God’s Word over your own word and opinion.
3. A wounded sheep will kick and bite the one who is most helping him.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing for young ministers is the simple fact that many people under their ministry will be the most painful elements in their life and ministry. Many ministers think that the people who are under their ministry will be all “roses” for them, but like Paul, they don’t understand when God puts some “thorns” in among the roses.
A person who is hurting spiritually is fighting with God, and often Satan antagonizes the person by also struggling with him. All this fighting makes the person forget and “get cloudy” on who is the bad guy here, and likewise, you as God’s minister get the bad part of it often. Don’t get mad at the person, get mad at Satan. Pray for your enemies, especially when they are in your own church. Even though they don’t know it, they are being used by Satan against God’s purposes and will, and therefore, forgive them, help them, serve them.
4. Our relationship with God (church experience) is not a ladder climbing event, where you get ahead by stepping (pressing down) on others, but rather being a ladder for others.
— you fulfill your divine purpose by others getting ahead and enjoying victory and success.
I hate Christian universities. They are places where we learn “a system”. Christian high schools are becoming the same. You do not “get ahead” in your spiritual life by “besting” and “beating” other of God’s servants. Christ’s entire focus of his life and ministry was service of his brethren. We so often enter these institutions, and the entire system, from grades, to promotion, to awards, to graduating seems to be a competitive learning experience. Christian adults today have been overtaken by “sports” which is more of the same.
Rather than beating your Christian brethren by “being better than they are”, why don’t you just set your goals in serving and helping them? By being the factor in their life to bring them closer to God, you please God. With this goal, you can coexist peacefully with others like you. If you are hell-bent on being the best, and beating everybody else, and pre-empting their service by doing what they are doing first or such that everybody leaves them to come to you, then you fall into Satan’s thinking.
5. The transmission of morality has little to do with teaching (verbally telling others the truth), and has everything to do with living a personal example of those truths you wish to communicate.
–In education, more is caught than taught.
–Never trust a professional that doesn’t live by his own principles he is charging you to correct your life.
–Knowledge is nothing, knowledge that has saturated abundantly and been mastered by the teacher such that he lives those principles he teaches is everything.
–Wisdom is the skillful and beneficial use of knowledge, usually learned from experience or deep meditation, always applied first to the wise man’s own life before he shares with others.
I am amazed at how many ministers have a mindset (taken from the above mentality in the above points), and very simply they think they can teach and infuse others with God’s principles without they themselves having to participate in that. They teach others to be generous without they themselves having to do that. (They give in front of others so that people won’t accuse them of hypocrispy, but generosity is far from a character trait deeply rooted in their own life.) They teach others to forgive, but they are hardly willing to forgive anybody. They teach their people absolute obedience to their authorities (i.e. their pastor), but they as a pastor, also have to submit to God, and that is rarely seen in their own life, rather a superabundance of pleasing their own wills.
It is painfully accute when their “students” point out, “but Pastor, don’t get mad at me, I am just following what you personally show us in your own life.” This highlights your own hypocrisy. You cannot demand in others what you yourself won’t submit to and let dominate in your own life.
6. Pride and arrogance is how Satan works, and marks all his ministers. God’s ministers are all like Jesus, humbly washing the feet of others, when they are kings and priests.
–Never sit under the authority or teaching of a proud man who has no sense of his own faults and frailties.
–A leader who never does wrong, and who never admits any wrong he has done (either ignoring it or blaming others) is Satan’s man, proud and arrogant.
–A leader who shares his errors publicly, like God does with David’s sin, Peter’s denial of Christ, etc., makes the leader Christlike, in that he acknowledges the sinfulness of all men, even saved leaders of God’s people.
Perhaps one of the great signs of being a false minister of God is arrogance. This is easily identified in a leader, and yet so few Christians identify it correctly, as of Satan. Bragging about the achievements of one’s own self is clearly wrong, yet this is common among pastors.
Pastors are to impose God’s kingdom on people in the earth, by working individually in their own life first, and then in the church. We give glory to God, not God’s servant (me) who has done wonderfully. This is how Satan works, bragging on himself, his own self, his own work.
7. True God directed ministry is faith directed, trusting in the spiritual strength of those eternal principles to work.
–Programs don’t work, but God’s Word does transform lives.
–A true minister of God will never squeeze his people for personal income, but rather teach them that God says a people’s ministers should be financially supported by that people, therefore, they will give free will offerings, without being pressured, and love doing it, because they comply with God’s will.
Somewhere in all of this you have to just committ to the fact that God’s principles really work. You stop trying to make success happen by arranging things “behind the scenes.” You stop battering your people to give generously, attend, go out to witness, etc. You preach God’s principles, and they WILL CHANGE LIVES. You have to trust that.
So many churches live from one “emotional pump up” to the next. Take that away, and they have nothing. The people stop everything. This is a man made religion, not God ordained. God ordained religious life will continue with or without encouragement. Encouragement takes the form of good words, and great examples. Emotional pressuring to make the people do what you interpret to be “good Christianity” has to stop. Trust God, use His message, His principles, and things will work in the long run.
8. Your fun and entertainment time is not important. Fulfilling excellently God’s mission is. Therefore, live to serve, and let fun be a minor element in your life and profession as a minister of God.
–Kids come for fun, when they should identify as Christ’s followers with a mission to prepare for.
–According to people, the best sermons entertain and are not pedantic (teaching), but according to God, the purpose of a sermon is not for entertainment, but to teach, transform, change, and must be “educational.”
–Boring sermons come from boring people who have nothing better to do than bore us. Excellent sermons come from lessons already learned and sins dominant by the preacher in his own life, and he humbly shares that with others.
Entertainment and fun have become the gods of our age. We “HAVE TO HAVE THEM”. Everything from school to work to marriage has to have these elements of “fun” or nobody wants them. This is ridiculous. Rather than enjoying everything because it is oriented around the god of enjoyment and pleasure, we have to orientate everything around the God of Heaven, who puts order and holiness as the goals of everything we do.
We “enjoy life” because we do things the way that God wills it, not because it is easy, fun, or entertaining. Walking in the light of God is what pleases us, and is the goal we live for. Ministers have fallen to this false god of entertainment, and they try to mix entertainment with everything they do, bringing worldliness in with it.